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J Surg Educ. 2012 Sep-Oct;69(5):617-22. doi: 10.1016/j.jsurg.2012.03.001. Epub 2012 Apr 17.

Residents can successfully teach basic surgical skills in the simulation center.

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Department of Surgery, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, MA 02115, USA.



Basic surgical skills are frequently taught to surgical interns in simulation centers. Faculty recruitment for teaching of these sessions can be difficult. The goal of this study was to determine whether senior surgical residents can effectively teach basic surgical skills to provide an alternative to faculty-led instruction.


Academic medical center. Twenty-eight surgical interns. In this randomized controlled trial, interns were randomized to receive teaching by either faculty or senior residents. Two-hour teaching sessions for each group consisted of modeling and guided practice. All interns underwent baseline knot-tying and suturing skill assessment using a previously validated standardized task scoring scheme and completed a confidence survey. After teaching sessions, both groups underwent repeated skill testing and were again surveyed.


Twenty-eight interns started in the surgery program at our institution during the year of this study. Seventeen of 27 (62.9%) interns participated in both teaching sessions and completed all skill assessments and surveys; 7 (41.2%) interns were taught by faculty, 10 (58.8%) by residents. Overall, skills training improved in both groups for knot-tying, running suture, and subcuticular suture performance. Confidence performing knot-tying tasks also improved. Interns taught by faculty members and residents demonstrated similar levels of improvement in speed and accuracy, although faculty instruction improved speed of performing the simple suturing task (-144 vs -27 s, p = 0.04).


In the simulation center, teaching by senior surgical residents and faculty members resulted in comparable improvement in interns' basic surgical skills. These findings could increase the skill instructor pool for teaching in the simulation center, potentially easing recruitment and providing senior residents with teaching opportunities.

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